This is a tall order. We just had the most phenomenal time at BlogHer Food in San Francisco that I doubt we can keep it under 10. Even 20 would be a challenge! But try we must.
(Okay, I STARTED this on 10/10/10. Almost finished it too! But there were planes to catch and bills to pay and toddlers to reunite with and the cat’s in the cradle and so on. Most of it was done! Anyway, on we go. (After all the learnin’ we did about photography, I’m a little bashful to share some of these rookie shots, but hey, I’m still in the process, and will be a young padawan blogger for a while longer, and have made my peace with that.)
10. Bacon. Yes, it’s true, we co-authored a tofu cookbook, and are devoted regular participants in the Meatless Monday movement,Â and cook vegetarian about 85% of the time (speaking for the Anne half, anyway) . . . and yet this was a major highlight. From eating The Pioneer Woman’s Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Thingies to witnessing the The Bacon Experience with rock star Ruhlman, bacon itself was a welcome special guest star at the Saturday wrap party, hosted by the aforementioned Ree Drummond of the Pioneer Woman empire as well as Jaden Hair of The Steamy Kitchen and Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes. Speaking of . . .
9. Okay, I should have bought some lottery tickets yesterday, because my luck was blow-the-roof-off AMAZING. First, I won a $250 gift card to Cooking.com courtesy of the Ferry Building scavenger hunt. I was floored! I’ve never won anything like that! And then, as if that weren’t more than enough . . .Â I also won a gorgeous Kitchen Aid mixer courtesy of the aforementioned Dynamic Trio behind our Saturday wrap party.Â Blessed, I am. Truly. THANK YOU, BlogHer Food, Ree, Jaden, Elise, the universe – and my fabulous co-blogger for making it all possible in the first place. It will all be put to good use, I pinkyswear it. Stay tuned. (That’s all I will say for now. But really, stay tuned.)
P.S. I had called exactly one month prior to get a Saturday at 8 reservation at Chez Panisse. We hemmed and hawed about whether to keep all day long – and are so glad we went with the party instead. AND HOW. Even without the win. Alice, bless you – another time.
8. Getting to meet all the wonderful new connections! Here’s where we make the usual disclaimer that it would be truly impossible to list everyone with whom we were happy to get acquainted, but it’s absolutely true. But we’re still going to give a shout-out to a few highlights within the highlights: Had a lovely conversation about where to get the best Southwestern food and the qualities of sopaipillas at Casa Bonita (and the fact that yes, it’s a real place, where I grew up in Denver, not merely a creation of Matt & Trey’s zany imagination) with Awake At The Whisk en route to the Ferry Building on Saturday. Talked about future Oregon food blog networking possibilities with Sandy of The Reluctant Entertainer. (Oh, how I cannot WAIT to be living somewhere that has a passionate food culture, including farmer’s markets in every neighborhood and chickens in practically every yard.)
So much more: Bumped into fellow Ultimate Recipe Showdown (here’s my big chili moment from our episodeÂ in 2007) veteran Jenny of Picky Palate and reminisced about the whirlwind that was our close encounter with Marc Summers and Guy Fieri. Hung with various member of the Utah contingent, like Two Peas and Their Pod, Barbara Bakes,Â Cooking Canuck and also Megan’s Cookin.Â Being able to fawn over two of my favorite recipe sources of all time, Elana’s Pantry and The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen, live and in person. In Elana’s case, I even got to learn at her feet in the Recipe Writing session, which I found invaluable. Get the pass and watch it if you didn’t attend – there was really great information being shared, particularly for some beginners, but even for some veterans! We’ve been chatting with AlisaÂ of One Frugal Foodie (and also Go Dairy Free) and about something fun that’ll be happening in the coming months, and it was great to finally put a lovely face to the name and brains behind both sites.
And so, so many more!
7. Swag. You know it’s going to be a good time when you open your bag and the first thing you see is a big ol’ jar of Nutella. (Word to the wise, if you’re still lingering in the Bay Area: Ezrapoundcake Tweeted Sunday morning that TSA declared that her Nutella was a liquid and was thusly confiscated. I would have plopped right down and eaten it on the spot, personally. Anyway, all the sponsors tookÂ very, very good care of us indeed, throughout the conference as well as at our Friday Food Fete and the (lord almighty) knock-your-socks-off closing night.
7.Â Â The photography & food styling seminars. Co-blogger Donna & I took a divide and conquer approach, splitting up to get to attend more. White On Rice Couple were a major inspiration to me, since Donna has the advantage of being married to a professional photographer and I have to muddle by with my just-barely-upgraded from point & clickÂ skills (you can pretty much always tell whose post is which before reading a word). And Donna reports that the food styling session was just mind-blowingly great – in fact, she finally caved and bought the glorious, sumptuous Food Styling book by Dolores Custer. We’re planning on buying the amazingly handy pass so we can sit in on the sessions we missed – I just want to absorb every word and extend the experience as long as I can!
6. Experiencing okonomiyaki for the first time at the Ferry building Farmer’s Market. I have wanted to try this Korean delicacy ever since reading about it in Ayun Halliday’s book The Big Rumpus. Food-wise, she’s more known for her memoir Dirty Sugar Cookies (actually one of my favorite food memoirs of all time, easily), and The Big Rumpus is more about mom-musings, but there’s a moment in one of her birth stories when okonomiyaki comes up, somewhere in between her husband and labor support friend recuperating from a nasty bout of listeria and her water breaking in a public park. Trust me, it’s a fine read. Funny how Dirty Sugar Cookies and The Big Rumpus sort of exemplify and fuse my two online identities and life passions. (Here’s my evil twin blog, if you’re into that kinda thing. )
Anyway, I digress once again. The okonomiyaki, courtesy of the Namu food cart, lived up to expectation and then some. A gluten-free version will be forthcoming! (I am normally GF, but I am able to make exceptions, as it’s my daughter that’s intolerant and we were *sniff* separated for the weekend. I do feel the difference myself, though, after indulging in it for just a couple of days.)
5. Twitter. “Huh?” you say? How can something that’s out there every day and used by millions be a highlight of this very unique experience? Well, see, I’m brand-new to actually using Twitter actively, and this weekend pulled it together for me. (I like the “New Twitter” too, in fact.) I loved hearing witty moments from the likes of David Leite and Hedonia retweeted from other seminars as they unfolded, I loved eavesdropping on GlutenFreeGirl and The Chef passing notes in the hall (more on how inspiring they are in a moment; it’s about to get way more real here). I especially loved watching the #BHF10PP unfold, with The Peche as the very sad ringleader.
4. The Feeding Our Future session in the values track. To do this justice would require its own blog post, but I found it, the panelists and the discussion itself as inspiring as the topic is/can be sobering. Much attention was paid to the school lunch situation, as we were fortunate enough to have the famously anonymous woman behind the Fed Up With School Lunch blog, Mrs. Q, right there in person. (I was hoping for a disguise, possibly speaking with a voice altering device, maybe a beekeeper’s mask or at least some dark glasses.) I was particularly aghast to hear that on top of the garbage that’s being fed to the future of our country every day, RECESS is now being cut out of more and more schools. Astonishing. Dianasaur Dishes and Hey, What’s For Dinner Mom? were also articulate and impassioned about the situation and their parts in changing it. We also got the pleasure of meeting the youngest conference attendee, Charlie, a 7th grader who got as fed up as Mrs. Q did, and decided to start cooking for herself and blogging about it. Brava to all.
3. These next two tie into one another and blend into the number one moment. So, though not officially part of the festivities, the Sunday picnic at Dolores Park, held by Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, was the perfect denouement.Â Gluten-free fare and great conversation in abundance, a gloriously sunny day, a beautiful view, in one of the most awesome cities on this green earth. I already mentioned how touched I was to observe such a wonderful relationship, however distantly, and will delve into that even more, but did I also mention becoming a giggling fangirl upon meeting her for the first time on Friday? (Er, I didn’t? Forget I said anything.)
2. What it’s all about. Here’s the number two, which will be elaborated upon as well (you’ve probably guess by now that there’s going to have to be a part two to this). Donna and I, by pure happy chance, got to have an extended elevator moment with Dorie Greenspan. This wasn’t just about being starstruck, though, despite there being plenty of that, too, but we got to chat with her and tell her a little bit about our blog, and then – I honestly don’t even recall how it came up -Â we touched on our background, our history as a reunified birth mother and adoptee, and the way we started connecting through food.
Dorie’s response to us, in conjunction with the moving example of Shauna, and the rousing benediction we heard at the final keynote address has led to:
1. The decision to finally unearth our authentic voices, and thus find our authentic blog.
I hope you’ll come back tomorrow to read more on that.Â In the meantime, I just have to express my gratitude once again to everyone at BlogHer for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And for all the Nutella.
— posted by Anne, channeling Donna